Communities In Schools of Seattle is part of the nation’s leading dropout prevention program. Our mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. We currently partner with nine Seattle Public Schools, connecting kids to caring adults and critical community resources that help break down barriers to graduation.
Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing a series of short essays from different stakeholders reflecting on the value of the work we do at Communities In Schools of Seattle. Check out board member Beth Weir’s perspective below in “A Matter of Grace.”
A Matter of Grace
“How old is your Mother?” I asked the six-year-old who explained to me her father was turning 30 and they would have cake for dinner. The child gave a short “mmm” at the question and then her eyes lit up. “Eleven,” she said.
I looked up to see the student teacher grin and returned one of my own.
That little girl is one of the lucky ones: she has an intact family building its own traditions, is outgoing and at home with classroom visitors, behaviors suggesting strong emotional support and a range of experiences.
Would that every child has such a grand start in life but they do not. About 15 million kids live in poverty, about 21% of all children.* The effects of persistent poverty are well documented; significant among them is a child’s failure to do well academically with the knock-on effect that life chances are diminished.
Communities in Schools (CIS) is an organization founded to keep kids in school; absence being a particular problem associated with poverty. CIS personnel work in nine Seattle schools and the scope of their activities is immense, ranging from providing a safe place where the kids can do homework all the way to assisting a whole family.
When a family with both elementary and secondary children in ‘CIS schools’ lost everything in a housefire, their lives were, not unexpectedly, thrown into disarray. The children were unable to attend class as their parents strove to put their lives together. The CIS Site Coordinators connected the family to housing agencies, provided emergency financial assistance, replaced the smoky clothing rescued from the fire and in a gesture that would have made the six-year-old happy, conjured up a birthday cake for one of the children. Within two weeks the children were again students and attending school consistently.
The feeling of relief for the members of that family must have been enormous. The material help notwithstanding, a realization that a measure of grace had been extended toward them would have been valued. That is the nature of grace; it enables people to accept and give without complication. It ennobles everyone.
Work such as that carried out by CIS Site Coordinators, is simultaneously exhausting and invigorating. And it requires fiscal resources. On October 24th Communities in Schools Seattle is holding a silent auction to raise funds for the work such as showcased above. There is a charge for admission but no further ask will be made although donations will be cheerfully accepted.(Fancy that!) In any event, folks are invited to enjoy the band, sip some wine, chat with friends and hunt down something in the silent auction to purchase. (There are plenty of opportunities to buy an experience and if you like wine you will not be disappointed.) The Staff and Board members look forward to seeing you there.
Please consider your support an act of grace since it will enable the work of CIS to continue and grow. It is work that ennobles us all.
Beth Weir is a board member of Communities In Schools of Seattle and had a career in education.
*National Center for Children in Poverty, 21% of all children, live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold. In 2019 that refers to an income level for a family of four of $25,750.